Surprise!

Labour will give pay rise to ‘overworked and underpaid’ NHS staff
Shadow health secretary to unveil plan to lift 1% cap and introduce independent pay review body to agree public sector wages

Blimey, who would have thought it eh?

Labour plan to lift the 1% cap on pay rises for NHS staff and move towards public sector wages being agreed through collective bargaining and the evidence of independent pay review bodies.

How independent though? They going to put the likes of me or Ecks on the review? Or Snippa?

This is something that seriously bugs me about Americans

You know, sorry and all, but better out than in.

On the part of the Esta form which reads “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?” Kenyon ticked yes instead of no.

He only learned of his error when his grandson’s travel was refused. “I couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see it was a genuine mistake and that a three-month-old baby would be no harm to anyone,” said the 62-year-old.

The baby was taken from his home in Poynton, Cheshire, to the embassy in Grosvenor Square, London, to be questioned by officials. The round trip took about 10 hours, longer than the nine-and-a-half-hour flight time from Manchester to Orlando.

“Baby Harvey was good as gold for the interview and never cried once. I thought about taking him along in an orange jumpsuit, but thought better of it,” said Kenyon. “They didn’t appear to have a sense of humour over it at all and couldn’t see the funny side.

“He’s obviously never engaged in genocide, or espionage, but he has sabotaged quite a few nappies in his time, though I didn’t tell them that at the US embassy.”

It’s not the lack of a sense of humour. That can, sadly, happen to people of any cultural grouping. Rather, the thing which drives me up the wall about Americans–of a certain type possibly–is their rock hard belief that the rules of the bureaucracy are actually important.

To be possibly hyperbolic about it, the British deal always was that we’d have very few rules but those we did have were both really important and also ones that pretty much everyone agreed with. No murdering people for example–yes, obviously, murderers don’t quite agree with that but pretty much everyone does. The French/Russian whatever deal was that there will be masses and masses of rules but no one is going to take them seriously. Even those supposedly enforcing them are going to be reasonable about it–or in the Russian version slipped a few roubles to shut up and go away.

The Germans had and have lots of rules and they’re important. Socially at least. Move into a block of flats and you’re highly likely to find a schedule for when it’s your turn to sweep he driveway. And it would be a terrible social faux pas, and possibly even illegal, if you didn’t do it. And properly too.

And that’s what pisses me off about America. They’ve that German attitude towards the rules. It must be important other wise why would there be such a rule? And sod being reasonable – or bribeable – we’re going to do everything by that book of rules. Up to and including interviewing a three month old baby about his terrorist activities.

Perhaps the problem is that the US is still too young a culture. They didn’t get ruled by the Hapsburgs for 400 years and thus don’t have the beneficial contempt for bureaucrats which makes for a happy life.

They’re not thinking this through, are they?

A new diesel car scrappage scheme will be targeted at the most polluted areas under plans being considered by ministers, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

Car owners will only be able to qualify for cash to scrap their diesel vehicles if they are old enough and registered at an address where air pollution is already at dangerous levels.

Because it’s not where the car lives that’s the problem, it’s where it is driven. And poor areas tend to be where lots of cars a driven a lot….not because we all go touring for poverty porn but because areas with masses of traffic are less desirable and thus cheaper.

Election hacking – Yup, must be the Russians

Foreign states may have interfered in Brexit vote, report says

Err, the site where you registered to vote collapsed on the last day.

This is about normal for government IT, no?

And if it was a DDOS attack, 4chan rather than Russia would be the first thought.

Foreign governments such as Russia and China may have been involved in the collapse of a voter registration website in the run-up to the EU referendum, a committee of MPs has claimed.

A report by the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee (PACAC) said MPs were deeply concerned about the allegations of foreign interference in last year’s Brexit vote.

Really, all a bit weak.

Umm, what subsidy is this?

A Labour government will impose VAT on private school fees to pay for free meals for all primary school pupils, Jeremy Corbyn is to announce.

The Labour leader will say on Thursday that the policy will boost the health and educational attainment of all children while ending a “subsidy to the privileged few”.

Can’t quite see what subsidy no VAT on school fees is.

The taxes which pay for the state system aren’t charged VAT as well. The grants to the state schools from the tax aren’t carrying VAT. Private schools aren’t paying VAT on fees. What subsidy?

That two versions of something are under the same tax regime isn’t a subsidy to one of them.

Interestingly, if the VAT is imposed then private schools will no longer have any incentive to reach out to those other local schools, will they? It being the threat of VAT which has been driving such programs. Might rather backfire….without the threat much of the power over them goes.

Sigh

Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills’ show is being investigated by the broadcasting watchdog over jokes about Essex girls.
The BBC show has sparked complaints that the quips, aired last month, were sexist and derogatory.
Jokes included: ‘What’s the first thing an Essex girl does in the morning? Goes home’, ‘Why does an Essex girl wear knickers? To keep her ankles warm’, and ‘What does an Essex girl say after her doctor tells her she is pregnant? Is it mine?’.

And what does an Essex girl put behind her ears to make her more attractive?

Her kneecaps.

Yes, sexist and derogatory and now bugger off.

His employer, the BBC, might decide that’s not the sort of thing they want broadcast. Fair enough. But the might of the State through the law telling people they can’t tell bad jokes? Seriously, do fuck off.

Because the State does things so well, eh?

There are many reasons why I became homeless, but no one was surprised it happened. I’m just another care leaver who lost control of their life. Almost every person I lived with in children’s homes and foster placements has since experienced mental health problems, stints in prison, and battles with drug and alcohol addiction. What would make me so special that I could avoid the inevitable breakdown?

Quite an opening statement. Everyone who is brought up by the State breaks down.

The local housing advice service was no help. I was told that to be considered a priority need, I had to demonstrate that I was more vulnerable than my homeless counterparts. As one adviser put it: “I have to establish that you would be worse off than me, if I were homeless.” It may interest people that local councils are now running a misery contest for housing, a sort of X Factor for the destitute. Maybe my audition would have gone better if I’d had a few more missing teeth, and wet myself while singing Oom-Pah-Pah.

And then I befriended a resident of a residential charity for the homeless. He was far more helpful than the housing advisers, and managed to organise a place for me at the charity.

When I entered its walls, which were inside a converted factory, the place immediately struck me as having similarities with a Victorian workhouse. I was told by the “community leader” that I would receive basic subsistence: a room, food, clothing and a modest weekly allowance, in exchange for 40 hours’ labour.

Private charity helps him out. Bit of stability an address, food and in the warm. But he’s got to work for it.

Hmm, the bastards, eh?

These regulations not only strip homeless people of the right to a decent wage, but of all their other employment rights too. Because residents of such charities are not classed as employees, they cannot claim unfair dismissal or sick pay. Many people have lived and worked at the charity for up to 15 years, yet they can be sacked and evicted with no legal right to appeal.

I accept that residents, some of whom have suffered with long-term alcoholism and drug dependency, are far better off within the charity home’s walls than they would be on the streets or living alone. The environment is predominantly a positive one, where residents are well fed and safe, and are overseen by conscientious staff. The charity does give individuals the chance to participate in meaningful work and contribute to a community, sometimes for the first time in their lives. But none of this alters the fact that residents are forced by poverty to work for no pay.

So let’s insist that minimum wage must be paid shall we? That’s going to work well…..

Whut?

Far from being a waste, these activities save taxpayers money in the long run. Research undertaken on behalf of the Trades Union Congress found that, in the public sector, there are 8,000-16,000 fewer dismissals every year thanks to union reps.

Not being able to fire idiots saves money?

Seems fair enough actually

Nine MPs claimed Amazon Prime subscriptions on their parliamentary expenses, giving them access to the service’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters and Jeremy Clarkson’s The Grand Tour.

Some of them said it was a mistake, or were caught in a “subscription trap” after taking out a free trial, the Daily Mirror reports after new figures were revealed.

No, not the excuses.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, responsible for handling expenses claims, told the paper subscriptions could be claimed but MPs must “justify the subscription is primarily used for parliamentary purposes”.

That. As an MP you’re running two offices which need all the usual office supplies. I’m a little out of date of course but back when everyone used to buy from the world’s worst toupee, the Viking Catalogue. You set up an account and then got your office gubbins delivered. These days I can well imagine an Amazon Prime account being used to do the same.

As long as, you know, it is to deliver the office gubbins. If it’s used to crank one out to Pammie Does Parliament on those lonely nights away from the family then hang them all.

Stationary Bandits

Late last month, famine was declared in two counties of the civil-war torn East African country of South Sudan. With 100,000 people at risk for dying of starvation in that area alone and millions more on the brink of crisis-level food shortages throughout the country, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir promised “unimpeded access” to humanitarian aid organizations working there.

A few days later the South Sudanese government hiked the fee for work permits for foreign aid workers from $100 to $10,000.

Oh puhleeze, do bugger off mateys

But since those joyous days, the British government has not been doing enough to address the cultural needs of communities in the far south-west of Britain, according to the Council of Europe.

The council’s advisory committee monitoring the protection of national minorities has criticised UK ministers for cutting funding for the Cornish language, and suggested they work harder to devolve power and raise the profile of Cornish life.

On the language issue the committee was particularly scathing. “The advisory committee was disconcerted to learn that the UK government decided to cut all funding for the Cornish language,” it said. “The committee strongly regrets a decision which is considered to have a major impact on the continued revitalisation of the language.”

The number of native speakers of Cornish is zero. The language died 250 years ago.

Sure, it’s an interesting version of Celtic, along with Breton, Welsh, Erse, Scots and so on, but it is dead. If people want to try to revive it then good luck to htem. But there’s absolutely no reason why the kitchen hand in Keithly should be taxed to teach Celtic in Kernow.

Dear God, that bad?

The inconvenient truth is that in practice the combination of tax, spending, and redistribution undertaken by governments often makes significant numbers of poor people worse off. As Nora Lustig’s Commitment to Equity project highlights, the net result of taxes and benefits in Armenia, Bolivia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania is that more people are below the $2.50 poverty line than before. In Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, and Tunisia between one-quarter and two-thirds of the poor have less income as a result of the fiscal system.

Honeybuns, there is something you can do

It is a societal moral code turned on its head. Stunned and baffled, I am also one of those who see the people sleeping on the streets and walks on thinking, hoping, that someone is looking after them. That is what our taxes are for, after all. And yet, deep down we all know the structures that once looked after our most vulnerable have buckled. Who, then, is responsible for them?

Sometimes it takes one person to make the difference. Paddy was that person for me. He and his scraggy, kind old dog Gerard were based every evening at Leicester Square tube (exit 1), and for the past two years we met every week on my way home from choir. They were a familiar sight to all the locals, and during our conversations people would stop to pass the time of day. Paddy loved the fact that I sing at St Martin-in-the-Fields, and like clockwork would brush off my concerns, instead asking with a twinkle in his eye: “But did you sing well tonight?”

When I learned of his death from his son, I realised I couldn’t keep walking by. Modern society let Paddy down, and he died of cold on the streets. His son Patrick, now an orphan, in some kind of ugly twist of tradition, has inherited his father’s pitch, his dog, his tent … his homelessness.

My fury seeped rapidly into hopelessness and helplessness. There are so many battles to fight right now. It’s hard to know what to do as a citizen that will make a difference. And yet, there are ways to help, and foremost is arming ourselves with information. We need to know what we can do, who we can turn to, what actually helps.

And we need to turn to each other. Which is how, with the help and support of friends, I was able to channel my grief into something positive: an event called Sod This (for a laugh)!, to raise awareness and a good bit of money for two charities working to combat rough sleeping.

That something being taking a rough sleeper into your home and setting them on the road to reintegration with society. Because with a home address then you can start to find work and that’s how the process works.

And before you ask yes, yes I have. As should you if this is indeed something that you care about.

So, get on with it woman, just get on with it.

This ain’t nothing new Honey

According to The Guardian, she told Australian Broadcasting Corporation she was questioned by border agents in a room full of people for two hours. She said that the experience left her so harrowed that she felt like she had been physically assaulted. She has even suggested that she might never return to the US after the incident.
“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” Fox was quoted as saying. “I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby, and I’m 70 years old.”
According to The Guardian, the author blamed US President’s proposed travel ban as the reason for the “aggressive questioning” by the border police. She said despite having travelled to America 116 times before without incident, she was questioned over her visa. She was eventually granted access.

Bugger all to do with Trump. US Border people at airports are the rudest most shitty people I’ve ever dealt with. No, really, I went in and out of Russia for years and the US is worse.

The examples, aren’t they amazing?

The terrible poverty of modern England:

Melissa, a 20-year-old student, has watched her family struggle to pay the bills since she was at primary school. Ten years ago her mum, Elizabeth, slipped a disc, so badly that sometimes she can’t get out of bed. And, just like that, she had to give up her job as a cafe manager.

A few years later, Elizabeth developed a heart problem: her heart would stop for seven seconds, causing her to faint. “She’d often hit her head,” Melissa explains. For long periods, there was no wage at all coming in: Melissa’s stepdad had a heart attack during her GCSEs, and her father had a brain injury.

A family where all the adults are on the sick lives a financially precarious life?

The terrors of modern neoliberalism, eh?

There’s another little joy in this too:

There are now 19 million people in this country living below the minimum income standard (an income required for what the wider public view as “socially acceptable” living standards), according to figures released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) this month. Around 8 million of them could be classed as Theresa May’s “just about managing” families: those who can, say, afford to put food on the table and clothe their children but are plagued by financial insecurity. The other 11 million live far below the minimum income standard and are, the JRF warns, “at high risk of falling into severe poverty”.

We’ve no back calculation of these numbers. We don’t know how many were, by this standard, so imperilled in 2000, 1980, even 1880. We thus cannot actually tell whether things are getting better or not.

Sounds about right

Any future nationalist government of Scotland would face Greek-style austerity cuts of about £19 billion in the event of a “Scexit”, a leading economic forecaster has warned as speculation grows that the country will face a second independence referendum.

A new analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts that the gap between what Scotland raises in taxes and spends on public services will rise to an “unsustainable” 9.4% of GDP in 2017-18.

And of course if the demented porridge wogs think that’s worth it then we should not stand in the way of their leaving.

For, of course, we’re the people pickling up that bill at present….

Worse, perhaps they could turn out to be waaacists

Streets should no longer be named after local heroes because they might one day be named as paedophiles, according to official guidance.

Councils have been told that places should not be named after individuals – including fallen soldiers – in case they are later linked to “inappropriate activities”.

It comes after hundreds of streets, footpaths and plaques named after Jimmy Savile had to be altered when the star was exposed as a child abuser.

Hmm, so what do we call that bit of London where the tailors hang out now?

Doesn’t this just show why Pruitt is right?

Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency have been calling their senators to urge them to vote on Friday against the confirmation of Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s contentious nominee to run the agency, a remarkable display of activism and defiance that presages turbulent times ahead for the E.P.A.

Many of the scientists, environmental lawyers and policy experts who work in E.P.A. offices around the country say the calls are a last resort for workers who fear a nominee selected to run an agency he has made a career out of fighting — by a president who has vowed to “get rid of” it.

“Mr. Pruitt’s background speaks for itself, and it comes on top of what the president wants to do to E.P.A.,” said John O’Grady, a biochemist at the agency since the first Bush administration and president of the union representing the E.P.A.’s 15,000 employees nationwide.

Yes, but he’s the President, duly elected, and you’re the drone to do his bidding….